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Rackham, Arthur

Rackham, Arthur
Rackham, Arthur
Rackham, Arthur
Rackham, Arthur
About the artist
Rackham, Arthur
Biography
Authur Rackham was a painter and illustrator from London who illustrated books for publishers. He studied at Lambeth School of Art in 1884 under landscape painter, William Llewellyn. Rackham travelled extensively in Europe, particularly to Germany, the Alps, and Italy, and he painted in watercolour on these journeys. As a direct result European landscape and architectural subjects peppered his illustrations, and he developed a particular fondness for German literature and language. This came to the fore in his two illustrated volumes of Wagner's Ring cycle, The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie (1910) and Siegfried (1911). In tune with the changing times, Rackham's style during the 1920s began to adopt hints of art deco, even of syncopation. This was a manner in which he was perhaps uneasy, but nevertheless his natural sense of design, of characterization, and his lyrical handling of line and wash did not leave him. Nor was there any perceptible change in the sympathetic approach he had always adopted to the reading of the texts he had chosen to illustrate. He had a keen ear for the moods his authors evoked and a natural understanding of the subtleties of human expression. This was the mature grounding which he drew upon throughout his career in his narrative evocations of evil, redemption, and fancy. The last few years of Rackham's life were interrupted by spells in hospital for both him and Edyth. During his last illness he worked on illustrations to Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, a book for which he had a strong affection, and which he had longed for years to illustrate. The resulting pictures (the edition was published posthumously in 1940) are among his most affecting works, replete with wit, invention, and carefully controlled emotion. Rackham died at Stilegate on 6 September 1939 and was cremated in Croydon.
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